Local News in Brief : Group Accused of Mailing Illegal Ballots

One of Santa Monica’s principal political factions, in the throes of an election campaign to gain a majority on the City Council, has been accused of mailing out thousands of illegal absentee ballot applications.

Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, a liberal group with ties to Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), mailed 10,000 to 20,000 absentee-ballot applications to area voters.

The cards were printed with the organization’s headquarters as a return address, in violation of state election laws that require the applications to be mailed to the county registrar-recorder’s office, according to Tony Miller, chief deputy to California Secretary of State March Fong Eu. The cards were first questioned by rival council members Christine Reed and William Jennings, who said that allowing any political committee to serve as an intermediary in handling ballot applications created a “huge temptation for fraud.”